Oral & Vision Health Blog

What causes bad breath?

None of us likes to imagine we have bad breath. The trouble is, it's hard to assess the freshness of your own breath. That's why many of us use products that promise to keep our breath smelling minty-fresh rather than offensive.

Given the multitude of products out there offering to spare us the embarrassment of bad breath, we thought it was worth a little sleuth work into the world of breath fresheners and their potential impact on bad breath germs. What causes bad breath?

Why Good Breath Turns Bad

When you've just brushed and flossed your teeth, you're much less likely to exhibit bad breath. Why? Simple. You've just gotten rid of bad bacteria that were congregating in your mouth and teaming up to create smelly conditions. (Yes, our mouths, as clean as we'd like to think they are, are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, since they're warm and moist -- two conditions bacteria thrive in!)

Dry Mouth = Less Than Pleasant Breath

Saliva is a “natural mouthwash.” It has antibacterial substances that keep the bacteria that cause bad breath at bay, which is why chewing gum -- which increases saliva production -- can improve your breath. Because our saliva production slows down while we sleep, (combined with the fact that many of us are "mouth breathers") we wake up with “morning breath.”

Options, options, options.

Americans spend an estimated $10 billion a year on products to fight bad breath. There are a ton of options.

Mouthwash can be a great final step to brushing and flossing. If you’re prone to dry mouth, you might want to look for an alcohol-free formula. There are also medicated mouthwashes that your dentist might recommend for ailments like gum disease.

Mints and gum increase saliva production and add a pleasing minty aroma. Look for sugar-free varieties.

Breath sprays might feel like an air freshener for your mouth, but they’re a quick on-the-go solution if you’re feeling self-conscious.

Think of breath-freshening products as a mask for the underlying problem. The best way to combat bad breath is by sticking to a good flossing and brushing regimen and not missing your dental cleanings and exams. If you feel your breath is a serious problem, it could be a sign of an underlying condition.


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